American Sniper: Is Your Adaptation Running Toward The Truth?

Posted: May 27, 2015 Hosted By: Jacob Krueger

On this podcast, instead of thinking about movies in terms of two thumbs up or two thumbs down we like to think about movies in terms of what we can learn about them as screenwriters.


So we’re going to look at all kinds of movies. We’re going to look at good movies, we’re going to look at bad movies. We’re going to look at movies that we love and movies that we hate. But we’re going to look at them in a way that helps us to better our own writing.


Today’s movie is certainly one of the more controversial movies that are out right now: American Sniper by Jason Dean Hall. Let me just start off by saying that my politics are certainly not Clint Eastwood’s politics and that made American Sniper a hard movie for me. I think it made American Sniper a hard movie for a lot of people.


I’m not the kind of person who believes, as Chris Kyle says at the beginning of the movie, that there are three types of people in the world: sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I’m not a person like Chris Kyle who believes that things are purely black and white, and that there’s very little grey. Watching a movie that cuts directly from planes crashing into the World Trade Center to the war of Iraq and makes that argument all over again, linking Iraq to the September 11th attacks, politically – that’s hard for me to watch.


That said, those are the politics of the main character, Chris Kyle. Those are the politics of a lot of people like him who went into this war, believing they are the heroes. Believing that the people they are fighting are savages, and as Americans, they are purely a force of good in the world.


There is something to be said about directing and writing a movie that looks at the world through the eyes of your protagonist. The hope of course, as you work on such an adaptation, is that even as you’re looking at the world through their eyes, you’re also maybe revealing something to the audience, and to yourself, that is even more complicated than the main character can see.